Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper

It has long been speculated that Jack the Ripper was really a member of the British royal family. It is also possible, given the information known about his crimes, that he was a Freemason. The author uses these suspicions and a thorough knowledge of Victorian London to postulate a terrible pattern behind the Ripper’s heinous crimes.

At first, Inspector West does not see this pattern. He has other problems; through entries in his diary, the reader comes to understand the layers of bureaucracy that impede British police work and the terrible ease with which pertinent information can be suppressed. The strange nature of the missing evidence and the constrained behavior of his superiors, however, arouse West’s suspicions. He frantically begins to piece together an interpretation of the killings based on a warped version of Masonic rites, hoping that he will have the key before the Ripper can strike again.

As he probes deeply into the case, West meets some of the most interesting men of his day, among them George Bernard Shaw, the actor Richard Mansfield, and John Merrick, the Elephant Man. He even wonders what Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, whose fictitious exploits he follows avidly in the GAZETTE, would do. (The 1979 film, MURDER BY DECREE, pits Sherlock Holmes against the Ripper-- who is a Freemason.) In the midst of his investigation, West falls in love. The poignancy of that love ultimately drives him to prove the Ripper’s identity. The evidence is never given, however; the Ripper is protected after all, and West must choose between his career and his conscience.

1988 is the hundredth anniversary of the case of Jack the Ripper. This book is a fitting reminder of his grisly crimes and the toll he took in lives. It is also a story very well told.